Europe to build commercial laser-based quantum security system in the sky

June 10, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
Photo credit ESA
Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES is working with ten European partners on a project to distribute keys for quantum cryptography via its satellite network using lasers.

The Quantum Cryptography Telecommunication System (QUARTZ) inlcudes ten orgganisations tha are jointly developing the next generation satellite-based cybersecurity system that will generate encryption keys in space, and securely transmit those keys to users on Earth via lasers.

This would be used by telecommunication operators, financial organizations, infrastructure providers, institutions and potentially governmental organizations to protect information that would otherwise be vulnerable to hacking via the coming generation of quantum computers. Instead the quantum keys can be shared over the stellite network around the globe to secure the communications links in hard to reach places.

The ten members of QUARTZ include the Austrian Institute of Technology, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Communications and Navigation, Austrian quantum component supplier ID Quantique, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, the  Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, the Czech Palacky University and Dutch research house TNO. It also includes LuxTrust, itrust consulting and Tesat-Spacecom.

The development of QUARTZ is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) under a recently announced agreement with SES. In the project framework, SES and partners will define, design and develop a satellite-based Quantum Key Distribution system as well as ground end-to-end testing. Earth-to-satellite and satellite-to-satellite laser technology is already being used on commercial satellites as part of ESA's ARTES project using laser technology developer by the Scylight project. Researchers at the Max Planck Insistute have shown that the quantum keys can be transferred in this way. 

www.ses.com

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